I.T.S. Hall of Famer
- Apr 17, 2012
I’m speaking of the prospect of minorities not being able to speak out against racial discrimination, police brutality, inequities in housing, education, etc…. We believe it’s a good idea to trust the majority to determine what speech minorities are allowed to disseminate. That’s a very dangerous proposition. We’ve seen minorities silenced throughout world history when the majority wants to oppress (or worse) the same.
You're making a slippery slope argument that just doesn't happen. You know what is actually dangerous to the rights of minorities? Allowing hate speech saying those minorities should lose rights.
What is dangerous is disallowing speech that is critical of the government or businesses. The censorship of that type of speech is what has ultimately led to the plight of minorities.
If you look at the classic example of Germany, it was the allowance of anti-semetic hate speech that helped Hitler rise to the office of Chancellor, and only after he attained that office was he able to use the attack on the Reichstag to fully consolidate power. It was the Enabling Act of 1933 which gave Hitler the power to make and enforce laws without the consultation of the legislature or the President, and allowed him to override individual rights and the checks and balances of the Weimar Constitution. It took the Nazis literally suspending the entirety of what would have effectively been their Bill of Rights at one time for Germany to turn out the way it did.
What didn't happen was a slow slide into despotism with minorities being limited on what they could say about X issue. It was the unmoderated freedom of speech of the Nazis BEFORE they took power that allowed them to garner just enough support that they could eliminate all opposition once the right situation arose. Every time the Weimar Republic did try to moderate their speech, the government typically capitulated to the Nazis or the Nazis figured out a loophole to sidestep the bans.
This is what I'm worried about. It's not a death-by-a-thousand-cuts where our rights are eaten away gradually. It's the unrestricted use of the freedoms given to us to gain support for people with malevolent purposes who will then simply sever all of our freedoms at once in what is effectively a coup d'etat of civil liberty.
The literal text of the Reichstag Fire Decree was: Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights of personal freedom [habeas corpus], freedom of (opinion) expression, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Warrants for House searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.